Education in a COVID-19 Era

Education in a COVID-19 Era

Education in a COVID-19 Era


by Sam Gaby

As we continue to hear, COVID-19 has changed the education landscape for millions of families across Georgia. Parents have helped their children around the country complete an unprecedented 2019-20 school year, ending with unanticipated virtual schooling. One thing is for certain: this fall will look different than school years of the past. There will be some kids in traditional brick-and-mortar schools, some participating in virtual learning, and others changing their learning styles completely. One of the greatest takeaways of the COVID-19 pandemic – it further revealed a weakness in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education. 


As someone who was homeschooled from  K-12th grade, the transition to virtual college lectures and tests was not a struggle for me. With the flexibility that comes with this schooling choice, I easily managed my schedule and the new freedoms that came with college. I credit my success so far in college to the choice to learn differently. I would not have thrived in public school, so my parents gave me the opportunity to learn in a home environment with additional tools and resources. 


Homeschooling is not the right option for all children, nor is it right for all family dynamics. Some lower-income families may not have the resources to support a homeschool education or any other education style other than public school. However, the point still stands: everyone learns differently and needs to have the option and financial support to choose the right learning environment for success. Public schools, private schools, online learning, charter schools, and homeschooling should be options for everyone – no matter their circumstances.  

As schools begin to open up, we should be asking ourselves whether or not individual public schools are ready to take on the challenge of hybrid learning. Some counties in Georgia are giving parents a choice in online or in-person learning. The school systems need to be incredibly prepared to handle both forms of learning at the same time. 


Last spring, there was a sense of chaos as schools frantically tried to transition to virtual learning. Some schools were not able to resume teaching for several weeks or longer. Has the summer break been enough time to adequately prepare schools to handle the mass technological implementations and resources needed to provide millions of students with a quality education? Will parents around the country start to reconsider their options in schooling? Will more, supportive school choice initiatives such as Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) or the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship Program begin to emerge? Only time will tell, but my hope is that this “COVID-19 Era” brings forth a broader conversation on the importance of options in education.

Sam Gaby is serving as a summer intern for Georgia Center for Opportunity. 



A quality education is key to a child’s future success. Academic achievement paves the way to a good job, self-sufficiency, and the earned success we all want for our children. To learn more about education options in Georgia click here

Children excited as they leave school

Caring for Frontline Workers | HEALTHY @ HOME

Caring for Frontline Workers | HEALTHY @ HOME

Caring for Frontline Workers | HEALTHY @ HOME

This week we’re joined by expert and family counselor Diane Dierks, as she gives us a new perspective on caring for frontline and healthcare workers dealing with current events. 

We are driven by a belief – supported by experience and research- that people from all walks of life are more likely to flourish if they have an intact, healthy family and strong relationships.


To learn more about how the Healthy Families Initiative is active in the community, click here

99 Nonprofits to Receive Funding from ECMC Foundation Employee-Nominated Grant Program | YAHOO FINANCE

99 Nonprofits to Receive Funding from ECMC Foundation Employee-Nominated Grant Program | YAHOO FINANCE

99 Nonprofits to Receive Funding from ECMC Foundation Employee-Nominated Grant Program | YAHOO FINANCE

LOS ANGELES, June 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Ninety-nine nonprofit organizations will receive funding from ECMC Foundation as part of an annual program designed to give back to the communities where employees live and work. For the first time, ECMC Foundation will provide funding to all nonprofit organizations nominated by employees in an effort to bolster support to communities during this crucial time.

Chris Moder from the Altierus Career College-Norcross campus nominated the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) because of their work to support education and workforce opportunities in the community.

“Altierus shares GCO’s passion and engagement in innovative education and the preparation for and transition to purposeful employment. I’ve seen firsthand how lives are being transformed through their holistic approach, and I know the positive impact this grant will make,” said Moder. GCO received a $20,000 grant.


Read the full article here

The Untold Story of Georgia’s Primary Elections

The Untold Story of Georgia’s Primary Elections

Georgia made national headlines after Tuesday’s primary elections. Most of the coverage focused on long lines, mail-in ballots, new voting machines, and results that were not finalized until the wee hours of the morning. (In fact, some results are still pending). 

There were some high profile contests, including a couple of congressional races. Every member of Georgia’s General Assembly (except, of course, for those retiring) were also on the ballot. 

But there was one outcome of Tuesday’s election that you’ve likely heard nothing about.

Both parties have the ability to put non-binding referendum questions on their respective primary ballots. While the results of these questions have no force of law, it is a great way to test voter opinion on various policy ideas. The results are far more accurate than a poll and can help parties and candidates understand the will of the super voters among the electorate.

This year, Republicans included the following as ballot question #1: “Should Georgia lawmakers expand educational options by allowing a student’s state education dollars to follow to the school that best fits their needs, whether that is public, private, magnet, charter, virtual or homeschool?”

The results were overwhelming: as of this writing (results are still coming in), more than 73 percent of voters said “yes.” In fact, the question had majority support in every single one of Georgia’s 159 counties, destroying a common narrative that rural voters don’t support school choice. In all but 12 counties, support was over  two-thirds. In many cases, the ballot question will ultimately receive more support than the Senate or House member representing the district. 

You might be tempted to argue that this only speaks to support for educational options among Republicans. And while the Democratic Party of Georgia didn’t include this question on their primary ballots, making an apples-to-apples comparison impossible, other polling in the state consistently shows support for school choice among all Demographics—Republicans, Democrats, rural, urban, young, old, men, and women. 

Even an AJC poll, worded in such a way as to be biased in the negative, found that 61 percent  of voters supported school choice, even when warned that it might “undercut public school funding.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures, many families were forced into alternative ways of schooling for the first time ever. Families’ experience with how traditional public schools handled the shift to distance learning was mixed and inconsistent. Some schools and teachers excelled, ensuring students did not lose out on learning. Others threw their hands up  early, and kids have suffered. 

In the aftermath of these experiences, and in light of all the uncertainty facing a reopening of traditional public schools in the fall, many families have begun searching for alternatives–virtual education programs, private schools, and innovative public charter schools. 

But will public policy change to support these students who need something outside of the traditional model of education? So far, CARES Act relief has focused millions of dollars to the state Department of Education, local districts, and traditional public schools. Nothing to date has been offered to families whose students fell behind, need to play “catch-up” over the summer, or need a different environment when school returns in the fall. 

If legislators and state leaders are paying attention, that should change.

In recent years, there has been a reluctance on the part of legislators to expand existing school choice programs or create new ones. Usually, the argument goes that it will not be politically expedient to do so. 

Legislators might be dismissive of polling, but if they ignore actual voters who went all the way to the end of the ballot and chose to say “yes” when asked if money should follow the child to the best school for them, it could ultimately be at their own peril. 

Now that voters have spoken—clearly and specifically—how will legislators respond? Will they listen to the will of those who elected them? Elected officials (or those who wish to be elected in the future) have the ultimate opportunity for a win-win: they can give kids the educational opportunities they need and deserve while giving voters what they support and demand.